Residents must stop heritage sites being ruined by officials and developers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 January, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 January, 2012, 12:00am


Those in the community who have been lamenting the lack of a genuine heritage and conservation policy on the part of our administration should take heart.

It is now clear that it does indeed have a road map, and this leads directly to 'Old Hong Kong Street' at Ocean Park.

The Tourism Commission and Development Bureau are busy ramming through projects designed to destroy the real Hong Kong. I would cite, as examples, plans to turn the Tsim Sha Tsui Star Ferry pier and [bus] terminal into a tourism plaza and shopping mall and to demolish the west wing of the Central government offices, excavate the historic hillside and allow a private developer to build an office tower in its place. And now we have the ludicrous creation of a brand new 'old' street at Ocean Park.

Buildings over 50 years of age are deemed ready for the wrecker's ball despite their often unique characteristics.

Some suffer the indignity of having only their facade retained, as is the case with the former Wan Chai market.

Other once-dignified heritage sites, like the marine police headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui, renamed 1881 Heritage, have been emasculated and reduced to caricatures of their former glory.

In the report ('Ocean Park to give visitors glimpse of 'Old Hong Kong''', January 11), Allan Zeman, chairman of Ocean Park, said, 'We thought it was important that young people and tourists should experience the old Hong Kong.'

This is a damning condemnation of current government policy with regard to conservation and respect for the genuine product. Visitors to Ocean Park are not fools; this is a project designed to market tacky souvenirs and fast food.

People who want to see the real Hong Kong will still flock to the older districts and street markets to feel the pulse of the city and savour the authentic Hong Kong.

Residents must be vigilant in monitoring government redevelopment plans to ensure that we keep our heritage and street culture genuine and alive, or we will wake up one day to find that all we are left with is a pastiche in a theme park.

Mary Melville, Tsim Sha Tsui